Effectively quantify PPCPs in water

Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) offers high sensitivity and effective chromatographic separation to identify and quantify pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in water samples.

PPCPs find their way into the environment through excretion, household waste and trash, sewage, bathing and wastewater and direct disposal. It is estimated that approximately 3,000 different substances are commonly used as pharmaceutical ingredients, including painkillers, antibiotics, antidiabetics, beta-blockers, contraceptives, lipid regulators, antidepressants and impotence drugs.

Although detected concentrations of PPCPs are generally low, the incomplete removal of PPCPs during wastewater treatment or diffuse-source contamination presents a potential risk to human and environmental health. Regulators and researchers have developed methods to assess the risks of environmental exposure to some PPCPs,1-6 but only a small subset has been investigated so far.7 Because PPCPs  have diverse chemical properties and are usually found at low concentrations, sample analysis is a challenge.

Ease the challenge of analyzing PPCPs with LC-MS/MS

Leverage the high sensitivity and positive and negative ionization capabilities of LC-MS/MS technology for comprehensive, high-throughput analysis. LC-MS/MS enables you to:

  • Analyze thousands of polar, non-polar and thermally labile compounds in a single run
  • Perform direct injection of water samples for quick screening in both wastewater plants and drinking water treatment systems
  • Simplify soil or other sample prep procedures due to the sensitivity of the analysis
  • Utilize unknown screening approaches to identify unknown or emerging PPCP compounds or possible metabolites


With LC-MS/MS technology from SCIEX, you can have the selectivity, specificity and sensitivity you need to quantify PPCPs with limits of detection in the low parts-per-trillion range.

  1. CDER (Center for Drug Evaluation and Research) and Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration. Environmental Assessment of Human Drug and Biologics Applications: Guidance for Industry. Washington, DC, 1998. Available: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm070561.pdf
  2. CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use), European Medicines Agency. Guideline on the Environmental Risk Assessment of Medicinal Products for Human Use. EMEA/CHMP/SWP/4447/00 corr 1. London, 2006. Available: http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/10/WC500003978.pdf
  3. CVMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use), European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products. VICH Topic GL6 (Ecotoxicity Phase I) Step 7: Guideline on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) for Veterinary Medicinal Products–Phase I. CVMP/VICH/592/98. London, 2000. Available: http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/10/WC500004394.pdf
  4. CVMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use), European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products. Guideline on Environmental Impact Assessment for Veterinary Medicinal Products Phase II. CVMP/VICH/790/03-FINAL. London, 2004. Available: http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/10/WC500004393.pdf
  5. ECETOC (European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals). Intelligent Testing Strategies in Ecotoxicology: Mode of Action Approach for Specifically Acting Chemicals. TR 102. Brussels, 2007. Available: https://www.ecetoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ECETOC-TR-102.pdf [Google Scholar]
  6. WHO (World Health Organization) Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water. WHO/HSE/WSH/11.05. Geneva: WHO. 2012. Available: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2012/pharmaceuticals/en
  7. Richardson, S.D. and Ternes, T.A. Water Analysis: Emerging Contaminants and Current Issues. Analytical Chemistry 2017, 90(1), 398–428. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b04577

Detection of 80 targeted PPCPs in 10 min at 1 μg/L in water




X500R QTOF System

This easy-to-use accurate mass spectrometer system analyzes data faster using the power of SWATH® Acquisition.

SCIEX OS Software

This all-in-one software lets you acquire, process and analyze data, and even generate reports.

QTRAP® systems

Use the MRM sensitivity of a triple quadrupole system to get even better identification and quantification.

Fluorochemical HR-MS/MS Library

Browse through an extensive, verified library of 600 high-resolution MS/MS spectra and more than 250 PFAS fluorochemicals and their metabolites.

Improve your testing for PPCPs and pesticides

Researchers need reliable and sensitive approaches to quantify diverse anthropogenic species in water. The SCIEX Triple Quad™ 5500+ LC-MS/MS System ─ QTRAP® Ready can help.


Learning Center  
Quantitation and identification of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP) in water samples Download
Quantitation and identification of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP) in environmental samples using advanced TripleTOF® MS/MS technology Download
Analysis of personal care products (PPCP) in water samples by way of large volume sample injections Download
vMethod: Solution PPCP analysis in water Download
PPCP analysis in water Download
Analysis of endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in river water Download
Metabolomic profiling of accurate mass LC-MS/MS data to identify unexpected environmental pollutants Download
The use of large volume injection and online-SPE and LC-MS/MS in water testing Watch Video
A new approach to testing PPCPs and pesticides in water Watch Video
Simultaneous characterization of highly polar, polar and nonpolar compounds in river water using serial coupled RPLC and HILIC with a QTRAP® 5500 LC-MS/MS Download